The economic crisis has contributed to a glut of bees in California. That raises questions about whether a supposed global pollination crisis is real.
AT THE end of February, the orchards of California’s Central Valley are dusted with pink and white blossom, as millions of almond trees make their annual bid for reproduction. The delicate flowers attract pollinators, mostly honeybees, to visit and collect nectar and pollen. By offering fly-through hospitality, the trees win the prize of a brush with a pollen-covered bee and the chance of cross-pollination with another tree. In recent years, however, there has been alarm over possible shortages of honeybees and scary stories of beekeepers finding that 30-50% of their charges have vanished over the winter. It is called colony collapse disorder (CCD), and its cause remains a mystery.
Add to this worries about long-term falls in the populations of other pollinators, such as butterflies and bats, and the result is a growing impression of a threat to nature’s ability to supply enough nectar-loving animals to service mankind’s crops. This year, however, the story has developed a twist. In California the shortage of bees has been replaced by a glut. [Read full article]